The Daily Manila Shimbun


Palace optimistic Philippines to achieve growth target despite COVID-19

February 14, 2020

Malacanang is optimistic that the Philippines could still attain its growth target of 6.5 percent this year despite the threats posed by the 2019 coronavirus disease ( 2019-COVID).

In a press briefing in Malacanang on Friday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the government's monitoring efforts are not just focused on the COVID-19 per se, but on keeping a close eye on the effects in changes of behavior as a response to the virus.

"In other words, government is taking a hands-on approach to handling this issue and will be proactive in making the necessary interventions to maintain our current trajectory, particularly with regard to the economy which was recently given a vote of confidence as reflected in the recent Fitch outlook upgrade," he said.

While COVID-19 is expected to impact the global economy, Nograles said, "we believe that achieving our 2020 growth target of 6.5 percent is possible as the effects are usually short live and generally affect only the first quarter."

"Recent history has shown that the Philippine economy is resilient, given its robust domestic demand and production. We are riding on a strong growth momentum with our GDP growth accelerating to 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 from 6 percent in the third quarter," he added.

Nograles is banking on the country's growing domestic demand and "not as heavily dependent on the rest of the world" compared to other neighboring countries.''

"This implies that the economic momentum would allow the country to sustain its growth trajectory towards meeting the full-year GDP growth target range of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent in the near term and over the medium term," he said. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, in the same press briefing, said as of February 14, there were 191 patients under investigation of COVID-19 cases admitted in various health facilities, while  260 PUIs ( persons under investigation) have been discharged.

As of Thursday, he said 252 PUIs have tested negative for the COVID-19, while 186 have pending test results from the  Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

"Two of those that tested positive were discharged, and the other one expired," he said. 

While there is no recorded case of local transmission in the country, Duque said everyone has to remain cautious since local transmission has been happening in nearby countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Singapore.

"These develop(ments) propel us to gear up for a possible community spread. The Department of Health is at the forefront of assessing the situation and making evidence-based decisions to ensure that we keep the threats of the COVID-19 at bay," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS